Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Youth Group Starts!!

Tonight our high school youth ministry gets rolling. I am very excited. We have an awesome group of students, and I am excited to see what God has planned for this Fall. Pray it up for our group.

This week has been great. I've had some good meetings and quality preparation. I got to hang out with my friend Joel today (pronouned whole - el). Joel is from Mexico and he and his wife Graciela (AKA Chela) have been great friends the last 2 years. He helps me with my Spanish each week and we just share about life. We had some good conversation today. chela is taking a job in Chicago in 2 weeks and will spend 3 months away from Joel, until Joel finishes his Master's Degree at Iowa State University. That'll be a tough stretch.

Well, I better get back to work, but I just wanted to drop a note on the blog.

Monday, August 29, 2005

my wife and I again


We like each other a lot.

simple but good quote for today

"Discipleship is a lifelong process that God uses to brin gus to maturity in Christ." Doug Fields

my wife and I

good times had by all

This weekend I went with 9 other folks to the AMANA colonies. We enjoyed some fascinating sites and good food. The Amana colonies in eastern Iowa were started in 1855 (I think that's right) by a unique German community. They believed a certain Christian mysticism and ephasized community living. Not like a 70s commune, but more like the community found in scripture. They share all their possessions, ate community meals 3 times a day, and shared life together. They lived this way until the 1930s or 50s.

The team of folks I went with are a group of adults who have labored in the student ministry of our church. They are a great team and we had some amazing fellowship. God really blessed our weekend.

On Sunday we kicked off our junior high ministry for the new school year. We had a very good-looking bunch of kids and we had some good times. I really pray that each of those students makes a commitment to grow in their faith this year. I know God can do amazing things in the lives of willing people. After youth group, I went on a little job with one of our 7th grade boys who starts cross country this year. He is a godly young man with tons and tons of potential.

well, that's my weekend . . . tell me about yours.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

losing my voice

so I thought I was going to lose my voice this week, but now it's just turned into a small cold that leaves a lot of phlegm in the back of my throat. This week has moved quickly. I’ve spent the whole week pretty much at my desk making final plans and preparations for our student ministry kickoffs. We start our junior high ministry this Sunday at 6PM and the high school ministry has its official start this Wednesday Aug. 31 at 8PM. I am very excited to get going.

I have a trip with the ministry adult volunteers this weekend. These adults have put in tons of hours, prayers, and support this past year and we like to do a little trip each year to say thank you and look ahead. We are going to the Amana Colonies, which is a little German community in Eastern Iowa. It’s fun and rather fascinating to watch how they did things back in the day. It should be a great weekend.

My mind is frazzled by all this planning and time in front of the computer. I am excited to get the ministry rolling and watch God work in the lives of students. May God pour down his grace upon us. In Jesus Name!!

Have a great weekend; I probably won’t blog until Sunday at the earliest.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

a disturbing news story

Jesus said we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

I do believe are country is called to defend and ensure justice across the land, but when Pat Robertson demands the assassination of a country head, I get a little nervous. What would Jesus do in such a situation? Read the Fox article and let me know.

Monday, August 22, 2005

a pic



Here's the picture of my pals from Saturday night's reunion. Enjoy!

preaching

Yesterday I got to preach at church. It’s usually a fun experience. Since I’m young, no matter how bad I do, the people like to give me compliments. It was my third or fourth time preaching . . . it is definitely something you get “better” at over time, not that God doesn’t use the worst sermons to touch people’s lives, but there are people who can communicate better than others for sure. I preached on a passage in Luke about 3 people who said they wanted to follow Jesus but really had areas they thought they could hold back on.
One of the points in my sermon had an interesting quote in it. I have provided that at the bottom of this submission. I have a lot to do so I better get running.

By Bob Deffinaugh,
“I am convinced that one of the sacred cows of our Christian culture at this time is “the family.” Working hard to “get rich” is perhaps unacceptable, but working hard “to provide for one’s family” becomes a virtue for which one is praised. Self-indulgence may be considered a vice, but if I give my family a “much needed vacation” or I buy a “place on the lake” or a “condo in Colorado” so that I can spend “quality time with my family” I am a Christian hero, upheld by many as a model for others to imitate.

Please do not get me wrong. The family is a wonderful institution. God created the family, and it is a great blessing. We are to provide for our families. And we are living in a culture which is destructive to the family. Often it is because the family is under attack in our culture that we have sometimes overreacted, making the family the number one priority, and in so doing, we have made it a sacred cow.”

Saturday, August 20, 2005

anniversary

My parents celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary on Monday. Tonight most of my fam went out to Red Lobster to celebrate. Now I doubt you knew this; if you do, you are like Martha Stewart. But 25th wedding anniversaries require silver gifts and 50th wedding anniversaries require gold gifts. But on the 35th, you're supposed to buy things made of Coral (or Jade if you don't want to destroy tropical water eco systems.) Well, personally I think anything coral is tacky, which is actually a little joke I made tonight at dinner. The funny thing is, my dad long ago bought my mom (her first gift as a ring) a coral ring. I guess it looked good and all, but i just thought it was funny that I randomly said a coral gift would be tacky.

Today my wife and I, and a student friend named Anna, picked the apples off our tree in the backyard. this tiny little tree had like 50-100 good apples. We cut them up to freeze and it took well over an hour to cut up all those apples. It was fun though, and I really enjoyed getting apples without a trip to the grocery store.

Also, this morning I went golfing . . . I played by myself and it was really refreshing.

Last night I had this wedding in a nearby town. It was supposed to be outside in this gorgeous garden. The problem however was that it rained cats and dogs from 30 minutes before to 30 minutes after the official wedding start. We waited almost 20 minutes before calling the wedding into a small indoor room. Almost all the guests had to stand, which was a bummer. But the room was beautiful. It was a little biodome tropical room with a pretty waterfall as the backdrop. They had a harpist do the music and the bride and groom looked great. If it hadn't stopped raining outside just before we started inside, I think everything would have been fine. But the bride didn't think it was too cool that it stopped raining right when we had started inside. We shortened things up a bit since all the guests were standing, but overall it went off great.

I also hung out with old fraternity brothers and college friends last night. One of my close buds is working in Florida. He, his wife, and some other folks are starting a church and a ministry to reach teh toughest part of Jacksonville. It was great to connect with them and the other pals from college. (I want to throw out a "hey Kyle" to the host of that party . . . he reads this blog now and again.) When Kyle sends me a digital pic of our party, I'll post it on the blog so you can see all my good looking friends.

Well, it's late (8:45PM and I'm old) and I have to preach tomorrow at church so I better get off. Maybe there's some Law and Order on TV tonight? We'll see.

God bless all!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

another phota




My good looking family at my Grandma’s family reunion several weeks ago.

Quote of the day

Quote of the day:

“In view of the way Jesus defines what it means to be his follower, one might well wonder how many . . . church members are genuinely following the Jesus who speaks to us in the Gospels.” Craig S. Keener

Zimbabwe Update



Hello from sunny Boone, IA! We wanted to give you a quick update on our lives and share an opportunity for you to support us this fall with your prayers and your gifts.

We have been in Boone for nearly 2 years serving the First Evangelical Free Church student ministry. As the pastor of student ministries at the church, Matt has been coordinating, planning, and implementing all the trips, weekly events, and curriculum for the 7th-12th grade students. Just this summer, we took students back to South Dakota for a week long mission’s trip to the Rosebud Native American Reservation (the 2nd poorest area in the nation). Three weeks later, we took six students to a regional student training conference called Students Equipped to Minister to Peers. We also took 19 junior high students to Kansas City for a little fun and fellowship at the beginning of August.

Carrie is working part time for Serve Our Youth (“SOY”). SOY is an organization that finds and trains mentors for high risk youth. Carrie has been doing some grant writing and mentor recruiting with SOY since May 2005.

This fall we have been invited to assist two dear friends in their missionary work in Africa. They have been lifelong missionaries for a Christian organization called the Navigators. This couple has shared Christ and served people in various cities in the United States, Kenya, Lithuania, and for the last two years in Zimbabwe, Africa. They are also the founders of a humanitarian organization called Life to Life Africa. Life to Life Africa supports schools and orphanages, provides school dues for children in poverty, and offers other relief as needs arise among the African people.

We have been invited to Zimbabwe September 26-October 10 to join them in their ministry in the capital city of Harare. In Harare, we will share about our faith and hope in Jesus Christ to college students at the University of Harare. We will observe the work of Life to Life Africa with the hope of gathering information to share the great need of Zimbabwe back in the United States. We hope to bring home a little bit of Africa to help the students back in Boone gain a better perspective of the people of the world and their needs.

On the trip we hope to build solid relationships with Zimbabwean students. During the first 2 weeks of our trip, we will play sports, games, and share stories within the open Zimbabwean culture. We hope to invite several students to a Navigator college conference that will be held Oct. 7-9. We will help coordinate and teach at this conference, probably giving seminars on various aspects of Christian living and discipleship. At the conference we hope to connect the students to Navigator staff and other laborers.

Most importantly, we want to ask for your prayers for this trip. We believe that this trip will be absolutely worthless without God’s blessing, guidance, and care. Will you please pray with us?

If you would like a more detailed prayer list than what is provided in this letter, please contact us by email. We can provide you with a list before we leave, and may even be able to contact you while we are in Harare.

Much love,
Matt and Carrie

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Wednesday fun

Today I met a good friend for breakfast. We met when I was in college and he was in middle school. He is a gifted guy with a fascinating personality. He has a hunger for God and a passion to be a MAN. The time with him was rich and encouraging. I wish him the best as he takes on college this coming fall. The rest of the day was filled with work work. I am performing a wedding on Friday so I finished up all that prep and now I am working on a sermon. I preach in church like 2-4 times a year so it's a very cool privilege, but it is hard to only preach once in a blue moon. You think that this one sermon has to change the church in order to save the world. I know that's a little over dramatic, but I struggle with that sometimes. It's pride and hope fighting it out. I know God can do amazing things in a drop of a hat . . . but sometimes I want God to do all the work and then give me all the credit. That's the sinful nature in me . . .

Lord, help me to be a vessel for your glory . . . not mine.

He must become greater, I must become less. John 3

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

tuesday's musings

The weekend flew by . . .

My wife and I are almost finished with the remodeling of our bathroom. It's only taken like 8 months. We just put in the shelves to our bathroom closet this weekend and touched up some paint that had needed it for almost 3 months. We also worked on a built in cabinet that's in our living room. We are pealing off all the paint with the intention of just staining the original wood (our house was built in 1914.) It takes a long time to strip all the layers of paint, grime, and stain.

Sunday was fun. We connected with some friends after church. I played this game Quiddler and took dead last. It's a fun game like Scrabble sort a. Then I worked all afternoon. We capped off Sunday with 9 holes of golf on the most beautiful night of the summer. There were several deer roaming the course that night and it was beautiful.

Monday was unique. 5 students, my wife and I ran a booth at the Iowa State Fair. We were passing out literature about our denomination the Evangelical Free Church of America. We pretty much sat there and people-watched all day. But we took in the fair later. We saw a 1000 pound boar, a 300o pound bull, and lots of food on a stick (don't ask if you're not from Iowa.)

All in all, the days are full and life is good. I am running off to a day long meeting now.

Question of the day?

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

poetry is good

ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth
Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

Robert Frost

Quote of the day

"Courage does not follow rutted pathways." William Bennett, former US Secretary of Education.

Are you taking the road less traveled or the easy road of the multitudes?

Monday, August 08, 2005

hot summer days


Here's a picture of the team of folks I went on a missions trip with in June. It was an awesome trip; I love them all. It kind of looks like I have to go to the bathroom in the picture.

I just spent a couple hours cleaning up my office. I filed away important documents, threw away lots of junk, and got the whole place all organized. it feels good to get things in the right place and to clean this up a bit. With all the trips and other summer events, my office had gotten quite crazy.

This past weekend I got to marry off a good friend. The wedding was beautiful, and the weekend was fun. I really enjoyed giving the wedding message to this amazing couple. I pray God's blessings on them for years to come.

Here's a bit of their story that I shared during thier wedding

"Eric and Kara . . . congratulations . . . today is a great day. It’s your celebration. God has brought you two together intentionally. He has spent years fashioning you both so that today the two of you could become one. Kara when you were just a young girl, you prayed that Jesus Christ would be Lord of your life. Eric, it was during your high school years that you gave your life to God. And today, God’s love is evident in both of your lives. Then, it was no accident that you began dating on May 20, 1998. God knew that it would happen for all eternity. He also knew that just a few months later, you two would kiss for the very first time under the romantic setting of Glen and Wanda Cowan’s garage roof. God knew that Eric would express the words, “I love you” by the end of the summer of 1998. And God also knew that you, Eric, would have to sweat out 2 very longs weeks before Kara expressed a similar “I love you too.” God knew that you would go to 3 proms and 2 homecomings . . . even though Eric was long out of high school for 2 of those proms. God knew you would celebrate (maybe a record breaking) 7 years of dating anniversaries. God knew it would take Eric nearly 6.5 years to visit Glen to ask for Kara’s hand in marriage, but God, also, knew that Glen would thoroughly take his time giving ERIC a proper understanding and explanation of the importance of marriage, but an affirmative decision eventually came, and all in all, it seems to have turned out for the best. Your engagement was on election night November 2, 2004, the same night, as I quote Eric, “My man Bush won.” Eric gave the best pre-dinner prayer of his life . . . and God answered his closing request that said, “And I pray that she says yes.” To which when Kara opened her eyes, Eric was on his knee asking for her hand in marriage. The engagement was a mere 9 months in comparison to 7 years of dating. And now we are all here today . . . very happy for the two of you."

God is good.